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Mogoeng to face Judicial Conduct Committee over pro-Israel comments during long leave

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA/African News Agency (ANA)

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 7, 2021


Johannesburg - Outgoing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng will have to use part of his three-and-a-half months long leave to deal with the Judicial Conduct Committee’s sanction that he apologises for his pro-Israel comments.

Chief Justice Mogoeng’s appeal of retired Gauteng Judge President Phineas Mojapelo will be considered by the committee next month at the Constitutional Court.

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Judge Mojapelo ordered Chief Justice Mogoeng to publicly apologise and issue a retraction of the statements he made last year during a Jerusalem Post webinar, at which he claimed to be under an obligation as a Christian to love Israel and pray for Jerusalem’s peace, which he said meant the Middle Eastern country’s peace.

”If I curse Abraham and Israel, the almighty God will curse me too,” he said.

Chief Justice Mogoeng continued: “I cannot do anything, as a Christian, other than love and pray for Israel because I know hatred for Israel by me and for my nation can only attract unprecedented curses”.

In a letter dated April 30, the committee informed the three organisations that laid a complaint against Chief Justice Mogoeng – Africa4Palestine, Women’s Cultural Group and the SA Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Coalition that the country’s top judicial officer’s appeal would be heard on June 11.

The organisations have until next Friday to make written submissions in response to Chief Justice Mogoeng’s appeal, which was filed in March.

Chief Justice Mogoeng’s office yesterday was forced to explain his long leave after eyebrows were raised by the move, with just five months left in his 12-year term at the apex court.

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On Wednesday, Chief Justice Mogoeng’s office announced that he was taking long leave from May 1 after informing President Cyril Ramaphosa and Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

The judiciary’s spokesperson Nathi Mncube said regulations promulgated in terms of the Judges’ Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act 2001 provided for judges to take leave of three and half months for every period of four years’ actual service.

”This leave is referred to as long leave within the judiciary. The Chief Justice’s four-year cycle to take his long leave commenced on 1 July 2018, but he was unable to take it due to his judicial and extra judicial commitments,” Mncube said.

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He added that because judges’ leave is not cumulative Chief Justice Mogoeng would have forfeited it as it has happened on previous occasions and that it was normal practice for members of the judiciary to take their leave whenever it is due as was the case for the country’s top judge, who has duly taken it.

Justice Sisi Khampepe has been appointed to act in Chief Justice Mogoeng’s position as Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is chairing the commission of inquiry into state capture.

Chief Justice Mogoeng has previously taken long leave between the last term of 2013 and the first term of 2014.

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At the time, former president Jacob Zuma appointed Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to act in Chief Justice Mogoeng’s position.

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